Sunday, January 30, 2022

My skin is a mess and my dog was sick all over the place but I made it to another re-birthday


This is before the anesthesia wore off

Maddie and I have both had a hard few weeks. I had a biopsy on my thumb, making it hard to write, but it quickly healed and turned out to be a tiny squamous cell carcinoma that could be treated with the chemo cream combination that I use. Harder still was the next week's biopsy on a fingernail on my left hand. My fingernails have turned a gross combination of purple and white, and ridged) white where the nail has died) and the nail specialist in Worcester doesn't know what to make of it. The biopsy itself didn't hurt but it really kills now. A friend said that makes sense because the finger is the part of the body most sensitive to pain.

The results of the fingernail biopsy were...drumroll...inconclusive. Either a flare of graft vs. host disease, which might make sense because I finally got off prednisone, or something called lichen planus. I have an appointment on Wednesday with the fingernail dermatologist and one the next day in Boston with my regular dermatologist. So we shall see. 

I really thought Maddie was in her final days. She stopped eating for three whole days. She also had diarrhea and was vomiting. I took her to the vet. The vet did (very expensive) bloodwork and nothing turned up. I couldn't get a stool sample. I tried everything to get her to eat, and she wouldn't even eat a tiny dog treat. The vet gave her a probiotic, antibiotic, and prescription canned dog food. She is almost 15, and I thought I should tell the appropriate people it was time to say goodbye. I shed some tears.

Give me more food! 

Yet she didn't seem sick. She was drinking and walking. I called the vet to bring her in again and the person on the phone said to try something I hadn't thought of : microwave the food so that the yummy smell might interest her. I microwaved it and put it on my mother's china and put it under nose. And she ate! Now she doesn't want to stop eating. That canned stuff is like doggy cocaine. I am trying to ease in some bland dry food but I don't think I will totally stop the canned food. It has really perked her up. Previously we were able to make it down to the lake (slowly); when she got there, she perked up because there is so much to smell. Now she is even more lively on our walks, especially with Deborah and her two Labs. Her coat even looks better.

A few years ago, someone at a party (in the Before Times) told me with a dog that old, I was living on borrowed time. It was unnecessary... I knew how old she was then and I know how old she is now. But still...


Today is my 13th re-birthday. It is hard to believe for sure. Thirteen is a lucky number for me. Ben was born on the 13th (of September). I am grateful for Denise, my donor, first and foremost. And for Dana-Farber and the whole rest of the crew who put up with me and helped me get to this point.

 Some people will know that this all started in 2003 with my acute myeloid leukemia diagnosis and spanned two relapses and three transplants before the last one. (Note : Here's why I don't call it a journey though I still don't have an appropriate name for it.)

On Jan. 31st, 2009, I described what I called the momentous occasion and concluded: "Diane brought me a birthday present yesterday: a card with a pop-up bouquet and a bag filled with the other kind of product that I now need after my transplant. It contained shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash and lip gloss, all in pretty perk-me-up colors. (After transplant, you’re supposed to start with everything clean and new and throw out old products.) On the card, she wrote, “Here’s to a wonderful and healthy life with your new mystery donor!”

Birthday treat today!
Last night, as the evening weirdness settled in on me, Diane reminded me, “You’re getting another shot at a whole new life. It’s great. It’s the miracle of modern science.”

It’s wonderful to have a baby sister who anticipates my every need, who picks me up and who washes, folds and delivers my laundry with a smile.

Thank you everyone for your support – your thoughts, prayers, comments, good vibes, messages, calls, visits and cards really mean a lot to me. "

Ditto on the thanks!


Lucinda said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It helps.

Sue said...

Congratulations for 13 years after AML diagnosis! My sister is in remission from AML now. I read an article of yours on medshadow site. I see where you developed peripheral neuropathy after chemo. Have you found anything that helps outside of gabapentin?
I hope your doggie is still feeling better.
Thank you,